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Shakespeare and the Renaissance Reception of Euripides

Suthren, Carla (2018) Shakespeare and the Renaissance Reception of Euripides. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

This thesis investigates the Renaissance reception of Euripides, arguing that Greek tragedy had a direct and important influence on Shakespeare. Euripides, I demonstrate, was both more widely accessible and more culturally significant than has generally been recognized. Beginning with Erasmus and ending with Milton, I establish the foundation of a detailed and historically specific understanding of how Euripides’ works were being read and understood. Paying close attention to the materiality of Euripides’ textual appearances across a variety of dramatic and non-dramatic texts and contexts, I set Shakespeare’s relationship to Greek tragedy within a more precise framework. The first three chapters set the reception of Euripides in the context of sixteenth-century European humanism. Chapter 1 argues that Erasmus established modes of reading Euripides that were enduringly influential, examining Euripides’ place in humanist curricula and teaching materials, followed by the translations of Euripides by Erasmus and Buchanan. Chapter 2 considers the material forms in which Euripides appeared before the Renaissance reader, especially the paratexts which shaped (or attempted to shape) the reader’s experience of Euripides. Chapter 3 turns to look at the two surviving translations of Euripides into English. The next two chapters focus in on Shakespeare. Chapter 4 briefly surveys the critical landscape, examining parallels between specific plays, but also opening out the discussion to include genre. Chapter 5 examines Shakespeare’s most extensive engagement with Euripides, offering a fresh reading of The Winter’s Tale as a meaningful reception of Alcestis. Finally, Chapter 6 traces Milton’s receptions of Euripides in relation to sixteenth-century trends, arguing that Samson Agonistes stands on the brink of a turn towards Sophocles that was beginning to occur as Aristotle’s Poetics gained a new kind of dominance over the interpretation of tragedy. But Milton’s poetic instincts remain Euripidean, gesturing to a chain of receptions leading back to Erasmus.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of York > English and Related Literature (York)
Depositing User: Carla Suthren
Date Deposited: 03 Dec 2018 16:27
Last Modified: 03 Dec 2018 16:27
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/21450

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